Design For Change

Design For Change

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Alfonso Romo - Mexico
Global Catalyst
(Host of the 2015 Be The Change Conference)

Story told by David Wygant

Taking the first step is famously the most difficult part of any journey.  However, by taking the first step, you begin to move in a specific direction.  This movement is critical to success and to reaching your destination.  Imagine a ship dead in the water.  You can move the rudder all you want, but until the ship moves you’re not going anywhere.  The same principle applies to setting and realizing a vision.  Where there is movement a “success friendly” force is created.   

Also key to realizing your vision is persistence.  Persistence is the combination of conviction or passion for the cause (vision), and faith that a successful outcome is assured if only you don’t quit

So vision, taking the first step, and persistence enable “challenge conquering.”  When I asked Alfonso what his biggest Design for Change (DFC) challenge was, and how he overcame it, his response was definite.

“One of the biggest challenges I faced was to convince donors and allies that something that could be explained in four words could be so powerful and capable to generate a social change movement.  I overcome it with conviction and hard work and a fair amount of luck. Now that we can show more than 15,000 stories of change is different.”

In the discussion, it was clear that Alfonso’s energy went a long way toward “taking the first step,” but his persistence brought the success.  Listen for it in what he said.

“Even in the face of temporary setbacks and micro-failures, we remained determined in our desire to share with everyone.”

“Also, it is been very challenging trying to reach all the schools in Mexico that is something we are still working on. We believe that we can overcome this challenge by establishing strong collaborative relations with the private, public and civil sector, working with other organizations that from all sectors, share our passion about education and the belief that this is the way we can change Mexico… and the world.”

If passion is the sum of vision, energy, and conviction, then Alfonso certainly is a passionate man.  He and his team have had great success in spreading the DFC contagion in Mexico.  His passion has been aimed at finding financial support too.

I asked Alfonso how they’ve raised the needed funds.  What has worked?

“We mainly receive donations from corporate foundations and corporations. Networking is very important, sharing what we do every time we have the opportunity, conferences, and business meetings, being willing to present the project, share the stories and evidence of the impact.” 

Persistence and patience are needed.”

While he didn’t say so specifically, there is little doubt Alfonso has faith in a successful outcome.  He is a true believer!  He’s also willing to work very hard.  To do what it takes.  He and his team are dedicated.

“Stubbornness, you have to be very dedicated and push and push. You have to be willing to put not only strategy and intelligence but a lot of hours behind it to make it happen.”

Have you heard the phrase, “Many hands make light work?”  Alfonso is not alone, and he relies on his team, and they him.  He reaches out and recruits others to help too. 

“Allies, we have to be able to align objectives and see in what we are the same and forget about small difference. You have to let go of pride and put the end result and objective of the project before anything else.”

Ultimately, our conversation drifts back to why.  Why spend so much time and energy?   Alfonso is quick to give inspiring examples. 

Talking to the teachers in schools provides instant feedback:  

“The most inspiring moments for the team are those that come from talking with the teachers leading “Design for Change” in their schools.” 

“Reading those emails or receiving those calls where teachers share their experiences, challenges and above of all, the effort, work and commitment they have to facilitate a meaningful experience for their students.  Those stories are always inspiring for all of us!” 

Sometimes, incredibly inspiring moments grow out of one specific situation.  A single little girl who is a true Superhero can shine as bright as a sun.  

“A little girl form a rural school called our offices crying, we didn’t know what was happening, so we picked up the phone to ask her what was wrong, she told us that none of the teachers or her peers wanted to do DFC but that she really wanted to participated and asked/begged to let her do it by herself, of course we let her, next year the full groups from that school participated thanks to the courage and drive of this little girl… Goes to show, we only need one really driven person…

What’s next?  I asked him what he is most looking forward to in the future.  His answer was in two parts, beginning with the 2015 Be The Change (BTC) Conference.

In the near future, I a looking forward hosting the “Be the Change Celebration” in Mexico. We are working on the details and very soon we will let you know more about the experience we are building.”

For now, Alfonso and his team are asking that we mark our calendars on September 25-26, 2015 for the BTC Conference.  Following the Conference on September 27-28 the Partners meeting will be held.  The host city will be beautiful Monterrey.

The second part is really where he began.  With Alfonso’s customary vision he sees the DFC journey continuing.  He has big plans and larger goals!

“I am also looking forward to increase the number of projects and schools that participate in  “Diseña el Cambio Mexico”. We will do it with the collaboration of strategic allies and by implementing a communication strategy that will allow us to share the amazing stories of our students and teachers, inspiring more Mexicans to be part of this movement.” 


Alfonso was born in Monterrey, a city in the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon in Mexico.  He still lives in Monterrey.  He attended the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (better know as Tec de Monterrey) graduating with a degree in Agricultural Engineering.  After graduating, he founded EducarUno.  He has been President and CEO since the beginning.  He has travelled extensively.  He has journeyed to Japan, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malasia, Tailandia, Macedonia, and several destinations in Europe.  He has been the recipient of a number of highly prestigious awards including the Rockefeller Award Youth Innovator; Index: Design to Improve Life; Leaders in Action (CLASE); Universidad del Valle de México on Social Development.  

Alfonso attended the 2012 and 2014 Be The Change Conferences in Ahmedabad, India.